What are the characteristics of an attractive smile? While not every person is born with a perfect smile, qualities such as straightness, cleanliness or whiteness of teeth may come to mind. Thanks to developments in the field of cosmetic dentistry, people can change the smile they were born with into a smile they love.
General dentists are able to perform a variety of cosmetic procedures to improve patients' smiles. These procedures range from subtle changes to major repairs, fixing flaws such as discolored, chipped, misshapen or missing teeth.
Cosmetic procedures include bleaching, bonding, veneers, reshaping and contouring. Bleaching is a common and popular procedure that is used to whiten teeth and can be performed by a dentist in the office or under supervision at home. Dentists can also use a variety of methods to correct misshapen or crooked teeth. Veneers are thin shells of porcelain or plastic that are cemented over the front of teeth, and bonding is the use of tooth-colored material to fill in gaps or change the color of teeth. Tooth reshaping or contouring are used to alter the length, shape or position of teeth and are ideal for patients with normally healthy teeth seeking subtle changes in their smile.
Some cosmetic procedures are not permanent, however. Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson Craig Valentine, DMD, FAGD, notes that "bleached teeth may fade back to their original color and might require more bleaching or veneering to cover dark enamel." Dr. Valentine adds that, as with all dental procedures, "the patient must maintain the health of the teeth and gum tissue through daily flossing and brushing to keep the smile beautiful."
Questions to ask before undergoing treatment:
Reviewed: January 2012